Faculty Feature: Amy Jenkins, Upper School - Biology/Environmental Science

Mrs. Amy Jenkins teaches biology and environmental science. She also serves with the Environmental Stewardship Program, rallying the community around sustainability initiatives.  She rejoined the Rabun Gap faculty full-time in 2016 to teach science at the Upper School after teaching in a part-time role from 2010-13.

Mrs. Jenkins received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, and her Master of Science in Biology from Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho. A versatile educator, Mrs. Jenkins holds a Biology and General Science Certification from the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence. Mrs. Jenkins has also taught at the college level, with a particular interest in aquatic invertebrates and water quality. She lives on Betty’s Creek with her husband Chris, who is a biologist and CEO of the Orianne Society, and their two children -- Dillon (7th grade) and Emma (4th grade).
Which after school activity/sports do you coach? I “coach” ESP during the fall and spring seasons. Our ESP crew works tirelessly for our community; they run the recycling program, maintain orchards and gardens, support our honey bee program, raise awareness of environmental issues, and so much more. I am incredibly proud of the students that I have worked with in ESP.
Why did you decide to become a teacher? My career started on a research science path. While I was in graduate school, I had the opportunity to teach undergraduate ecology labs and I realized how much I enjoyed working with students. After grad school, I worked in my field, but I continually sought out opportunities to teach classes and workshops to students of all ages-I was hooked! I knew then that I wanted to spend the rest of my career teaching. For me, one of the greatest rewards is to share my love of science and biology and to help students gain an appreciation for the incredible world around them.  
What is your teaching philosophy? I think students learn best when they are interested in what they are learning and are able to engage with the subject matter. I enjoy getting students outside to observe the natural world and give them an opportunity to ask their own questions. The world is incredibly fascinating, and the more you understand it, the more interesting it becomes.  
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom? When I’m not working, I love to spend time with my family. We enjoy exploring the beautiful Southern Appalachians, hiking, traveling, and cooking together.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone? One of my favorite hobbies is to SCUBA dive. There is nothing more peaceful than being underwater and watching a surgeonfish swim by.
What are the qualities of an excellent teacher? I think excellent teachers genuinely enjoy working with their students, are able to be firm, but empathetic, and are able to inspire their students to challenge themselves to do better. When I think about the qualities of an excellent teacher, I conjure up memories of the teachers that had the biggest impact on me; they were charismatic, brilliant, and able to connect with students.
What is the most difficult aspect of teaching today? One of the biggest challenges today is how to manage, and help students manage, their use of technology. With information just a click away, there is less opportunity for students to wrestle with questions and develop problem solving skills. I am also amazed by students’ abilities to memorize endless facts about fictional video game worlds, when they can’t tell you the name of the common trees in their backyard! Helping students find a balance is key.
What is the greatest success you have had in teaching? It has been very rewarding to watch past students go on to be successful in science and medicine. It is also very satisfying when you are able to take students that have never had an interest in science, and turn them on to science.
Anything you would like to add? I just want to say how much I love being a part of this community. I am continually amazed by the kindness, depth, and dedication of our students, faculty, and staff. It is wonderful to work at a place where we are continually working to be the best we can be.
Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School is a private, coeducational day and boarding school for grades Pre-K through 12, located in Rabun Gap, GA. Centrally located between Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, and Asheville, NC, we combine our strong academic program, mountain setting, and Presbyterian heritage to inspire young people who are eager to learn and grow.

Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School does not discriminate regardless of race, color, religion, gender, disability, creed, or national origin.